This weekend's huge game between #3 Iowa and #4 Penn State doubled as the biggest recruiting weekend... ever... for Iowa football, with 80 recruits set to visit Iowa City (either officially or unofficially), including several top-tier prospects. But Iowa football isn't the only program at Iowa looking to use the buzz from this weekend to boost recruiting efforts and while we wait to see what dividends Iowa football is able to reap from this recruiting weekend, we already know it's been a massive success for Iowa wrestling. Saturday Iowa picked up a huge get for the lightweight ranks in the form of Southeast Polk's Nate Jesuroga.
Southeast Polk's Nate Jesuroga, the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country at 120 pounds, has committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes: https://t.co/ZP5fOpyve2— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) October 9, 2021
Jesuroga, an in-state star at Southeast Polk in the Des Moines area, has emerged as a national-level stud at 120 lbs over the last year and with that he became a key recruiting target for Iowa. The state of Iowa hasn't produced a lot of elite prospects over the last decade or so (though that's been improving considerably in the last few recruiting classes), which makes it important for Iowa to lock down the in-state elite prospects that do exist. And given Iowa's rep as Lightweight U, given the tremendous success has had at 125 and 133 lbs under Tom and Terry Brands, you definitely want to see star lightweights suiting up in an Iowa singlet when they hit the college scene. Mission accomplished.
Jesuroga, a junior at Southeast Polk, has gone 72-2 in his first two years of prep competition with the Rams, going 31-0 and winning a 3A state championship at 113 lbs as a sophomore earlier this year. But as Cody Goodwin explained over at The Des Moines Register, his hype has really exploded because of his success on the national and international scene in freestyle wrestling:
Last summer, Jesuroga made the Cadet men’s freestyle world team, earning the spot at 51 kilograms (112 pounds). He then won bronze at the Cadet world championships in July, becoming Iowa’s first Cadet world medalist since United World Wrestling, the sport's international governing body, reinstituted the Cadet world championships in 2011.
That's pretty heady stuff. Freestyle success doesn't perfectly translate to folkstyle (i.e., college wrestling) success, but top freestyle guys usually do very well in the college ranks. Jesuroga is currently ranked as the #1 wrestler in the country at 120 lbs, as well as either the 6th best overall recruit in the 2023 class (per Flowrestling) or the 7th best overall recruit (per Mat Scouts). He becomes Iowa's second Top 10 overall recruit in the Class of 2023, joining another in-state star, Ben Kueter, who committed to Iowa (in wrestling and football) last month. Those sparkling recruiting rankings earned Jesuroga attention from programs across the nation and he ultimately chose Iowa over the likes of Penn State and Oklahoma.
The addition of Jesuroga further helps solidify the future of Iowa's lightweight ranks. The present remains bulletproof for Iowa at 125 and 133 lbs, with Spencer Lee and Austin DeSanto set to man those weights for another year, but 2022 will be their last year in black and gold (sadly), which means planning for the future is a must. In addition to Jesuroga, Iowa added Drake Ayala, another highly touted in-state star, in their 2021 recruiting class. Jesse Ybarra and Cullan Schriever (current RS freshmen) were well-regarded recruits as well. We'll have to see exactly how things shake out at 125/133 (and possibly 141, depending on how guys grow and gain weight in college), but the options certainly look very promising.
Welcome to Iowa, Nate.